hat did Octavian exhibit at the recent G2E in Las Vegas?
The products on the Octavian stand that generated the most interest and excitement - from both customers and press - were the new Octavian GateManager and Octavian CashManager systems. These new casino reception and cash desk systems are now fully integrated with Octavian's ACP system to provide ultimate end-to-end of both table and slot operations, all in real time.
A big talking point was the Player Tracking and Marketing functionality, and in particular the unique control over complimentaries. The complete Player Tracking system manages expenses, points, complimentaries, redemptions etc, while a very flexible and targeted Marketing campaign management system provides online status of every campaign plus results monitoring. And it's all there in real time, so operators can evaluate what's happening and make changes immediately if needed.
Another major attraction of this new solution is its comprehensive set of security features. Table managers were particularly interested to see demonstrations of the photo and blacklist checks, which include intelligent checking of newly registered customers against blacklisted persons. Then there's the benefit of online surveillance with sound and visual alarms to guard against entry by barred members. By providing such robust security and player tracing features, Octavian GateManager and Octavian CashManager meet the most demanding regulatory requirements.
Another wow factor for casino operators is how easy it is to access and understand the detailed information that is managed by these systems. Managers can drill down in great detail, but the information is presented in a very simple way in easy to understand graphical formats. No technical knowledge or special training are required to be able to use the system, and this really impressed everyone.
However, our focus at Las Vegas wasn't just on casino systems. We also showed an ExtraCash mini-jackpot machine group with the Your Money Prize' game add-on and a selection of games.
There was also a great deal to interest those looking for innovative EGMs and the latest games. We had a number of our own Maverick machines (Octavian's flat-pack EGM and games kit) in the stand, each running our latest games. Alongside those we had machines from other manufacturers, including a JVH machine with downloadable games content running on our Symphony DE platform, which is soon to be rolled out in a major installation in the Czech Republic.
Did Octavian release any new products specific to the US market?
No, we didn't show any new products created specifically for the US market at this stage. However, there was interest from American companies in distributing our games and systems in the US, which we are now following up.
What feedback did you receive from new and potential customers during the show related to the exhibited products?
In terms of feedback received and business generated at the show, this has probably been the most successful show for Octavian this year. Having said that, we actually had fewer products on the stand than at previous major shows. This allowed us to focus more on meeting existing customers and finalizing some significant business deals. We were also able to progress other projects, news of which we expect to release shortly.
By spending less time demonstrating games and systems to any visitor to the stand, we were able to adopt a much more targeted approach and used this G2E more as an opportunity to move forward some very important customer and collaborator relationships.
I think existing and potential customers valued having more time for discussions and more time to really explore and understand a smaller number of products on show.
As a result, we finalized sales and progressed negotiations with customers in Latin America and Europe. And that included some new geographic and product markets for Octavian too, so watch this space! Overall, the “less is more” approach worked well for us.
In terms of product feedback, the end-to-end slots and table management solution provided by Octavian GateManager and Octavian CashManager was the runaway success story for us at this G2E. We even signed a contract there and then at the show from a completely new customer. I also had magazine editors telling me they thought this casino systems solution was a contender for best product at the show, and asking to run in-depth editorial features. So, naturally, we're delighted with that kind of feedback!
Octavian's acquisition by eBet is not going ahead after all. Can you give some details as to why this is?
Principally, the deal was not concluded because of external forces. Markets weakened, and in the current market conditions eBet were unable to raise sufficient capital to complete the purchase of Octavian. Also, the fact that the deal became so protracted had an impact. Investors who had bought in at the outset were buying in at a higher point than the eBet share price during the latter stages of the deal. But if you glance at the business pages of the newspapers every day, you'll see we are by no means the only company - or the only sector - to have been affected by turbulence in the markets. These things happen and we now move forward. There are many more opportunities for Octavian to grow globally.
The important thing for us is that we have worked closely with our clients to keep them updated on progress and developments. Our clients know full well what a strong product portfolio we have in our own right. Also, they know that as an innovator in this industry we are committed to remaining at the leading edge of gaming technology and we will continue to develop and grow organically. We remain extremely optimistic about the future.
Will this decision affect in any way Octavian's business in the near future?
This will not affect our business going forward at all. The outlook remains very promising and nothing changes our strategy of continuing to grow aggressively in a favourable global gaming market.
The fact that the acquisition didn't go ahead did force us to have a simplified presence at G2E. Because of the long lead times involved in developing stands for major exhibitions, we had prepared a new stand carrying the branding of the new merged company. In the end, when the deal stalled, because of the time it takes to ship from the UK to the US, there was insufficient time to rebrand the original stand properly. So, rather than do something half-heartedly, we decided to have a simple presence for this show and then continue as normal from ICE onwards. We did have a bigger space planned, as we had anticipated showing eBet products too. Nevertheless, in the end it worked out well at the show, with less meaning more and we had standout as a result of the simplicity of the stand.
So, apart from us having to come up with a workaround for G2E, the failure of the eBet deal to go ahead will not affect business in the near future. We are already following up on several other opportunities, some of which we were able to progress during our week in Las Vegas. These are looking very promising for the company and more news will be released on this in due course.
Now that we are getting to the end of 2007, which is your balanced view of the year?
Right now it feels like it has been a long year with some ups and some downs. We had expected the eBet deal to have been completed by March 2007, but it went on for far longer than anyone imagined and then, of course, it did not go through.
Also, we have seen a lot of uncertainty in the Russian market, which has traditionally been a major market for us. Our decision to strike up one or more partnerships with other companies and generate and accelerate growth in other regions has, naturally, been influenced by that.
On the positive side, Octavian is constantly striving to strengthen its existing markets and create new ones with its innovative technologies. This, we know, will always create growth opportunities for us. An example of this is our breaking into the lottery markets with our Symphony platform, which is proving to be very successful. Also, we are currently exploring opportunities with other potential partners. Should these go ahead then these developments will help to position Octavian as a truly global player.
Overall, much has been learn over the last year and this has strengthened us as a global team and driven us to focus more on our key strengths, all of which bodes well for 2008, which is currently looking like being a very good year for Octavian.
What about Octavian's plans for 2008?
There are many projects currently being discussed that we will be announcing over the next few weeks. These projects are in existing markets and new markets for Octavian, both in terms of product area and geographic area. We will strengthen our hold in both the Latin American and European markets, whilst planning to make a significant entrance into other markets.